by Larry Peterson
From the Book Of Sirach Ch 3: 2-4
For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children;
A mother's authority he confirms over her sons.
Those who honor their father atone for sins;
They store up riches who revere their mother.
N.B: In this essay the use of the word PRIDE refers to Negative Pride
The Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday following Christmas. If you are among the millions of folks who never pay an iota of attention to this family, maybe you should. Why? Because this is the family that "set the bar" for all families. Comprised of two teenagers, Mary and Joseph and their boy, Jesus, their unconditional love for God and each other cannot be surpassed. The birth of Jesus is the greatest act of humility imaginable.
This was God, the Creator of all that there is, becoming like one of His creations. He could have come in a majestic way, surrounded by armies and servants and glitter and pomp. He chose to come in the simplest way of all, among the animals in a cave. As He began His earthly life His body was wrapped in cloth and then placed on straw. Why would He do this?
He did this because he loved us unconditionally and wanted us to learn that Pride, the greatest of the deadly sins and the root cause of all the evil in the world, must be kicked to the curb at all costs. Pride was the reason He came to us. From the first sins of Adam and Eve to the very present, Pride is the villain. Pride is why He had to redeem and save us. Incredibly, he became as HUMBLE as humanly possible to teach us that humility is what conquers Pride. Amazingly, He chose teenagers to set the example for everyone from that very night onward. They showed us that the love between a man and a woman will always conquer negative pride if tempered with Humility. For marriage is about loving and sharing and giving of oneself to another--totally. Humility is the virtue that effects that giving.
We know so little about the lives of Joseph and Mary, yet they are an integral part of the Salvation story. Mary's acceptance of a pregnancy that might have resulted in her being stoned to death as an adulteress, was another act of monumental humility. Joseph, a good man and a faithful Jew true to the law, accepted a woman who was pregnant as his wife, another act of extreme humility. The Holy Family was the complete and perfect embodiment of Humility. It remains so to this very day .
Isn't God amazing in the way He does things? This is the story of our Salvation and the rebirth of Hope. This Salvation became available to all people for all time and its success was entrusted to a couple of have-not teens whose humility and love of God enabled them to conquer the seemingly impossible. They married against incredible odds and traveled to Bethlehem while Mary was full term, a three to five day journey on the back of a donkey. Joseph walked guiding the donkey. Mary gave birth in a cave surrounded by smelly animals and filth and then they managed to escape the soldiers of King Herod who were trying to kill their newborn Son. Oh yeah, lest we forget, they also made it to Egypt, about three hundred miles away. We know the rest of the story.
If you take a moment to ponder all that happened and how it happened and why it happened, it will leave you breathless. And then we remember it was all done for all of us. There was nothing done for themselves, not one thing. We need to get back to "Family" and the Holy Family is the model to build on. We must never forget that within that family it was the husband and father who protected his wife and Son from the evils of the world. The Son humbled Himself and gave his life for us all. And the Mom, the most humble of all women ever, crushes the head of the evil serpent with her heel. In so doing she is protecting all of her "children" (which includes you and I) for all eternity. Humility conquers pride. Just look to the Holy Family.